Updated: Aug 24
I can, I can’t!
Some time this year, a close friend of mine, invited me to a function. My initial response was, “Ooh, I would love to come, it will be so much fun”. Even though I was drowning in debt and struggling month to month, I said yes. On top of stressing over my bills, I now had this added stress of figuring out how I would pay to attend this function. I knew I couldn’t afford it. If I did have that kind of money, I should be putting it towards my debts and bills. Having been in a similar situation not so long ago, I remembered the guilt, anger and frustration I felt after spending money that I didn't have for a family event, almost to the point of resentment. I really didn’t want to disappoint my friend. Was it me not disappointing them, or was it me not wanting them to think I was cheap or that my frugality has encroached into our friendship. Despite this, I knew that the ‘boss’ thing for me to do was to SAY NO.
Eventually, I had to come clean and say, 'I am so sorry, I can’t afford it'. My friend kind of knew about my financial hardship- but I don't think I discussed it with them in-depth. I needed to trust in our friendship and believe that I can be honest and open to them about my financial unease. I braced myself for the embarrassing questions or tones of shame in their voice, but thankfully the worry was all in my head, and my friend responded very well, they were completely understanding.
Most importantly, I felt free and honest. I was relieved to be open and living my pound saver reality. It took a lot out of me, to be honest, but I know it is something I need to do and continue doing until I can afford weekends away.
Living in your truth all the way
It's been one year since I’ve bought a birthday gift, gone out for dinner or attended a celebration event that involved spending money I didn’t have or budgeted for. I know that sounds sad, but I assure you it reads worse than it is and I have managed to maintain a social life and my friendships. I have merely chosen to live my truth by prioritising and looking for other ways to celebrate my friends without making myself worse off. It can totally be done, you just have to be a bit creative!
You see you are the only one who gets to choose where your money goes. Once that choice is made, hold your head high and own it, be honest. I love what the bible says, ‘The truth will set you free’ (John 8:31-32). Being a BOSS of your money is owning the fact that there are seasons where you can’t spend money on certain things.
We don’t talk about money here!
Society does an outstanding job at not doing ‘money talk’ publicly. We talk about everything else. EastEnders, Donald Trump, the delays on the train, our extravagant holidays, the shoes we got on sale, but no not ‘Money’. Ever since I started the Boss of my money journey, I can see the discomfort in people’s face, I can literally hear them gulp down their anxiety when I bring up debt, credit cards, budgeting and savings- or anything to do with money. I am not sure if this a British thing, but I personally believe that because we don’t have day to day honest money conversation with friends, and family, it's super hard for us to tell people ‘No’, even when we don’t have the money.
“Saying Yes, when I should have said no to friends and family, made me go into my overdraft, use credit cards, delay a bill, pay late payment charges, not have enough that week for food and so on. But I know that you reading this, will make you smarter than me."
Here is a list of actions to consider for a No- non-sense Approach to friendship and money:
Say no today so that you can say yes, tomorrow.
Be honest- live your truth
It's better to have this type of conversation face to face. However, if you chicken out, give them a call- whatever you do, don't text them, saying 'Sorry, I can't come. I Can't Afford it'. That's rude. Whichever method you decide to use, show them that you value and respect your friendship.
Tell them promptly. Don’t raise their hope, when you know from the get-go, you can’t afford it.
Replace spending money for your time, help or support. So, help them organise the event, help them pack their suitcase for a holiday, offer to give them a lift to the airport If you can afford £5 petrol instead of £300 weekend away, cook dinner for them at home. There are so many ways of expressing love, gratitude, and celebrating with others that are inexpensive.
In moving forward as your financial situation improves, create a budget for birthdays, weddings, celebration events and gifts. This is where you allocate a certain amount into a savings pot. For example, you put £10-20 away each month. That way when a celebration pops up you have already planned towards it.
It is a sad reality if you have a friend that you cannot share your financial unease with. Having individuals like this in your life will keep you in debt, guilt and shame. It isn’t worth it. I know it’s not easy, but it’s something you need to build yourself up to do. Just say, No.
Whether or not you say yes to your friends, do it from a place of truth, decide inline with your core values. Feeling bad, when we have to say no to people we love, is normal, but don’t let that feeling make your worse off. Feel bad and say No, anyway. Let them know, "it kills me saying no, but this is my truth". I am sure they will appreciate your honesty over lying about it or feeling guilty afterwards. When you live your truth, you empower those around you to live in theirs.